Research to support safe, dignified return
Last month ISF kicked off research activities as part of its work on the I’m Prepared project.
I'm Prepared – Equality for Refugee Women in the Return-Reintegration Context is a three-year project in Thailand, Myanmar, India and Sri Lanka supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Australian Aid Program under the Gender Action Platform (GAP).
With Act for Peace, the aid agency of the National Council of Churches in Australia, ISF is working in partnership with the Organisation for Eelam Refugees’ Rehabilitation (OfERR) in Sri Lanka and India, and The Border Consortium (TBC) in Thailand and Myanmar.
The project pioneers a refugee-led approach to strengthen women’s resilience in the return and reintegration of Tamil refugees in India and Karenni refugees in Thailand to their home countries in Sri Lanka and Myanmar respectively. Community-led preparedness for return and evidence-based guidance helps women and their families prepare for a safe, dignified voluntary repatriation.
The research component of the project which ISF is leading seeks to learn about gender equality and women’s empowerment during the return and reintegration of women and men refugees.
Driven by its value of partnership, ISF is working in a way that ensures that all partners of the project are research partners. This means that all partners will participate in designing the research, collecting the data, analysing the data and sharing and discussing the results.
The research will provide project partners with an in-depth understanding of what women’s empowerment changes are taking place and how/why these changes have happened. Gender equality is a key focus of the Project and informs the research approach. We are using two approaches to learn about experiences of gender equality within the Project – the Moser Gender Analysis Framework and Realist Evaluation.
The research process will also provide opportunities for learning and reflection for Project partners and Project participants. This will help to identify strengths that can be built upon as well as areas for improvement, within years 2 and 3 of the Project.
The research will provide an evidence-base that can be used to strengthen return and reintegration programs aiming to achieve women’s empowerment in other country contexts.
ISF designed and delivered local research training workshops in Thailand and India providing an opportunity for local partners to strengthen knowledge and practical skills in quality research practice. During the workshops held in November, data collection methods were piloted and tested and refined, informed by the realities of the local contexts in refugee camps in Thailand and India.
As the project activities are undertaken, project participants will be invited to participate in the research over the 3 years of the project, to learn about their experience and impact of the project.